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Thread: Country walk to Dams raid relic

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2006

    Country walk to Dams raid relic

    I don't know of this belongs here or in the general discussion, so of the moderators want to move it, feel free. Numbers in square brackets refer to pictures in the Dropbox file here:

    I ticked off a long ambition over the weekend to go and see what's left of the Nant y Gro dam in mid Wales. It's the redundant dam that was blown up in 1942 to see if Barnes Wallis' ideas about demolishing dams held any water (in a manner of speaking). The trials worked, the Nant y Gro was demolished and an important step was taken towards the dams raid of May 1943, a year later.
    Unlike the Mohne and Eder dams, the Nant y Gro was never rebuilt. The remains are fairly easily accessible just above the main Caban Coch reservoir in the Elan Valley near Rhyader.

    Here's how you do it. Park the car at the main Elan Valley visitor centre, a couple of miles from Rhyader and well signposted. There's a £2 charge, which also covers all the other car parks along the Elan valley.
    Walk towards the main dam, and cross the footbridge to the left hand side as you face the dam [1]. Behind the turbine building, there's a flight of steps which take you up to the level of the top of the dam [3]. It's a steep ascent, but at least you've got the most strenuous bit over first.
    At the top, follow the obvious track with the reservoir on your right [4]. After a while, this narrows to a footpath [5] which drops down towards the water [6] and later climbs back up again through the woodland, but it's easy enough to follow.
    After a mile or so, the path veers to the left to follow a little inlet above the reservoir, and also starts to climb a little. The remains of the Nant y Gro appear in front of you after a short while [7]: keep to the path on the left for the best view. If you decide to scramble down to the stream as it cascades through the remains of the dam [8], go carefully as some of the stones can be slippery and the ground soft and muddy away from the path. Take a little time to reflect on what went before [9], and look skywards for the numerous buzzards and red kites that seem to be circling constantly in search of their prey, mewing like hungry kittens.
    Return the way you came, unless you're up for a multi-mile lap of the Caban Coch. There's a decent cafe at the visitor centre, too.
    Do-able in trainers in dry weather, but walking boots recommended if there's any mud.

    Picture [2] is the top of the dam from the right hand side as you face it. There's no footway across the top of the dam to pick up the Nant y Gro path, so if you've ended here you'll just have to go back down and start again, as I did.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    The Wirral
    Very interesting - and a nice part of the world to go for a walk to boot! I may well give that a go next summer. Thanks for posting, Scouse. :-)

    In the same vein and daft, I know, but; I wonder if anyone has ever looked in Barnes-Wallis's old house garden (wherever it was, somewhere in Surrey, I think) for the numerous lost marbles from his experiments there? There must be quite a few lying in the flower beds, I'd have thought.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Thank you Scouse'
    It's a venue that still high up on my 'to do' list.
    Must attempt it sooner rather than later!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    West Sussex
    If it's lost marbles you might wish to find there's another location - if you are brave - Silvermere Golf Complex, Redhill Road, Cobham, Surrey KT11 1EF. Barnes Wallis's home at the time was at Effingham not far away, if I recall correctly. For many years the Silvermere Lakes were just a natural landscape feature in woodland and adjacent to his journey from home to his office at the Brooklands Works of Vickers Armstrongs a further two miles away.

    The lakes also happened to be very close to Vicker's R & D workshops that were two hangars built in the woods and known as Foxwarren. ( Their Metal Mosquito's were bullt in there and not in Brooklands Works for example). This location in turn was nice and handy for getting aircraft built in there down to the test airfield at Wisley a couple of miles away beside the London to Guildford A3 main road.

    These days its a posh building development that includes the Golf Complex. So, be brave, and duck the flying golf balls in the lake area!

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